Great shopping for a great cause at Kitchens for Good Shop in Pacific Beach
A unique retail store catering to all things kitchen — the Kitchens for Good Shop — recently opened in Pacific Beach.
Billed as the first of its kind in the U.S., the shop is filled with new and pre-loved kitchen, baking and dining items of all kinds.
The wide variety of kitchen goods is sure to appeal to everyone from home chefs, first-time apartment renters and vintage kitchen goods collectors to established foodies.
Shoppers can not only feel good about their great finds, they are simultaneously helping to improve the lives of others.
The shop became a reality after the Kitchens for Good catering business, which served as a revenue stream for the nonprofit, was no longer viable due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kitchens for Good offers tuition-free culinary, baking and food service management apprentice programs, as well as hunger relief and food waste reduction initiatives.
Want to visit?
Kitchens For Good Shop
Address: 980 Hornblend St., Pacific Beach
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.
Good to know: Kitchens for Good is headquartered at 2799 Health Center Dr., Kearny Mesa.
The concept for the store emerged after Kitchen for Good’s leadership identified a niche for repurposed and vintage kitchen wares, as an influx of baby boomers downsized and cleared out excess items, coupled with the growing demand for resale items by sustainably-minded millennials, according to Kitchen for Goods officials.
Even before stepping inside, many Pacific Beach residents are familiar with the building, located on the southwest corner of Cass and Hornblend streets, which was once the home of a Sherman-Williams Paint outlet, and Frazee Paint before that.
Inside and out, the store is covered with food motifs painted by Hanna’s Murals.
“Hanna’s done an amazing job; people just love it. It’s just fun and gives the shop such a great feel,” said Lori Love, director of operations at Kitchens for Good.
Inside, guests are in for a colorful surprise.
“The store is very open, more than 5,000 square feet, and filled with eye-catching displays of baking, cooking and dining items,” Love said. “We merchandise our stuff by color, and the mixture of items is all over the board.”
For example, she said one display is all blue items, another is all red, so shoppers get to “enjoy the treasure hunt.”
And the treasures inside run the gamut from the utilitarian to the whimsical, and from everyday glassware and plates to mixers, specialty cooking equipment and high-quality boutique items. High end appliances and upscale cookware can be found among colorful ceramics, kitschy retro objects, fine China and celebrity kitchen favorites.
“We even have a toaster that makes (the image of) former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s face on the toast; it’s great,” Love said.
In addition to the donated items, Kitchens for Good works with other nonprofit community partners.
“We sell Bright Futures candles from Home Start, Inc.. The candles are made by women in their Maternity Housing Program who are pregnant or have small children and need safe homes and other services,” she said.
The shop also sells purses and totes made by Mile High WorkShop. Material for the goods comes from retired billboards and used vinyl banners.
Kitchens for Good executives strive to keep prices on all the goods reasonable, and even offers a rental policy — items such as punch bowls and China sets can be rented for up to five days.
The store’s grand opening was held on Feb. 19, and more than 5,000 items were collected from donation drives held all around San Diego. Tax-deductible donations are still being sought and can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. For a complete wish list, visit tinyurl.com/Kitchen-wish.
Donated goods deemed suitable for resale are not tossed but instead, are sorted and recycled.
“Everything that we sell here and all our revenue goes to support our programs, that’s the reason people support us,” Love said.
The nonprofit was conceived by Jennifer Gilmore, Kitchens for Good CEO, and Chuck Samuelson, who is no longer with the program.
“Chuck was a chef who had struggles in his life, but he thought cooking was a way out,” Love said.
Samuelson watched many people start at the bottom of the industry and work their way up to become restaurant owners and managers.
Kitchens for Good seeks to help those from troubled backgrounds, including those who have a history with substance abuse, trauma, incarceration, former gang members, domestic abuse, foster care and homelessness. Since many of these individuals have barriers to employment, the program offers a fresh start and potential of a future career.
Founders quickly discovered that many of the people they sought to help not only lacked some of the necessary job skills, but effective communication strategies. With this realization, the program began teaching what they refer to as “life skills” and “knife skills” to groups of eager apprentices.
The state-certified, tuition free, Project Launch program starts with participants learning workforce training and life skills such as communication, conflict resolution, resume writing and more during 12 weeks (360 hours) of courses.
These classes are followed by 17 months (2,400 hours) of paid, on-the-job training.
“The students become employees of Kitchens for Good. For the next 17 months, they will be apprenticing with an approved employee partner and a journeyman,” Love said. “We offer them dental care, health care and give them all the things they need to be independent and established.”
More than 150 employee partners are part of the program, and range from small establishments with just a few employees to major hotels and well-known restaurants.
After completion of the 20-month program, the students earn an Apprenticeship Certification from Grossmont College.
Part of what makes the program so successful — they boast an 85 percent employment rate for graduates — is their ongoing career coaching and support services.
“During their time with the employee partner, we continue to work with students that need extra help, we continue their growth and bring them higher,” Love said.
Pacific Beach resident Arturo Chavez is on track to graduate from the apprentice program in 2023. Presently working at UTC in La Jolla, he said the program has changed his life for the better.
“The Kitchens for Good program means a lot to me because they accepted me for who I am,” Chavez said. “As I participated in the program, never did I feel judged or shamed. All the staff at KFG are really dedicated in helping the apprentices, and to me, every skill, advice and motivation was very heartfelt and genuine.
“KFG positively impacted my sobriety, prosperity and well-being,” he added.
Two newer programs — baking and food service management — were recently started and follow the same 20-month pattern.
Every 12 weeks, a new culinary class is started. Before COVID, each class averaged around 30 students. The number of students has been moving back up to those levels as the pandemic wanes.
“Every 12 weeks you get to see a transformation of someone’s life and it really touches me,” Love said. “The program helps them get their feet under them. Our recidivism is very low because of our commitment to stay with our apprentices.”
In addition to Project Launch, Kitchens for Good operates Project Nourish, which prepares and distributes meals through groups such as the Salvation Army, Helping Hands, San Diego Food Bank, Christ Ministry Center, Ronald McDonald House and many others.
Project Reclaim works with local farmers and wholesalers to rescue imperfect and surplus food, which is used by the culinary students, while Project Kitchen included the catering enterprise and contract meal service.
The pandemic has provided at least one silver lining for the program.
“Before COVID, it was very difficult to establish our employees because of the background check,” Love said. “Now it is much easier. We now have 150 employee partners, everything from very small places to top hotels.”
Officials stated the new store has been warmly received, with between 200 and 300 donations arriving daily.
According to Gilmore, the timing of the store’s opening is ideal.
“This was a win-win opportunity,” Gilmore said. “We believe we are well positioned for future growth.”
Founded in 2014, Kitchens for Good is a 501(c)3 nonprofit offering opportunities to individuals whose lives have been impacted by trauma and who have faced barriers to employment. Using apprenticeship programs in culinary, baking and food service management, students learn technical and life skills, preparing them for meaningful careers in the hospitality industry.
The organization is sustainability focused, working to reduce food waste and practicing environmental stewardship.